Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Knots

I would like to continue on with the concepts of an earlier couple of posts. In my post Tying The Knot I said:

“Some ancients thought of the plan of salvation as three worlds or kingdoms stacked one above the other. Spanning these three worlds was a rope descending from the highest kingdom bringing connection to the lower worlds. Each of the three worlds is tied to the rope by a knot, and the knot is fastened with a nail (Vav). The temple is a knot symbolizing the connecting place between the worlds. Each level of temple worship has an altar which represents the Vav or nail in that world.” and

“The knot alludes to covenants. When people are married, the have tied the knot, they have made promises that bind them. In the case of the temple the knot or covenant is made binding by the nail or Vav, which represents the atonement.”

Now there is in reality no physical rope hanging from the heavens that is fastened to the altar in each kingdom of glory by a nail, nor is it physically tied by a knot. These typify some “other thing” that actually does span these kingdoms and fastens a connection between the worlds. This “other thing” is symbolized by knots and nails.

The symbolic use of knots and nails clearly trace back to the temple. Adaptations of these symbols have permeated Jewish culture and to lesser degrees Mediterranean and Western cultures. Usage of these symbols appear to be authorized by God in some cases. They may be cultural uses accepted by deity, or even inappropriate applications of earlier teachings. Where the excesses being is beyond the scope of this post.

In a theological macrocosm the rope of the heavens (Tree of Life - Vine) is tied to the altar of each kingdom of glory by the nail (vav). In a microcosm each justified person is tied to the rope of the heavens symbolized by his belly button. This belly button connection is the source of all life, including the resurrection (As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. John 15:4). Recently Bryce Haymond over at Temple Study did a series of fantastic posts about the Egyptian “ankh” also known as the symbol of life (and knot of Isis). Haymond quotes Nibley discussing the possible origins of the ankh describing it as a “...knotted cord, [it] was a naval sting.” and further saying that the word “...ankh also means “oath,” the idea being, as Jan Bergman suggests, that one swears by one’s life, so that if the oath is broken, so likewise ‘the cord of life’ - the umbilical cord - is broken. (Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, Deseret Book,Page 454)"

So in the ankh we see an association of knots and covenants, and in this case they are fastened to the individual by the knot. Another nuance of the ankh is the tie of family relation. This is an allusion of tying families together, by this “other thing.”

The idea of wrapping mummies appears to be an application of the symbol of knots. But, with regards to the wrapping mummies, it appears to also be connected to the final embrace by the gods. Which is thought of as the culmination of all initiation. When an initiate is embraced by the gods, he is thereafter identified with them, it is a family embrace. This embrace is the final act of the atoning, the lost child has become one with his family again.

“Rich meaning is found in study of the word atonement in the Semitic languages of Old Testament times. In Hebrew, the basic word for atonement is kaphar … Closely related is the Aramaic and Arabic word kafat, meaning ‘a close embrace’—no doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace. References to that embrace are evident in the Book of Mormon. One states that ‘the Lord hath redeemed my soul . . .; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.’… Another proffers the glorious hope of our being ‘clasped in the arms of Jesus …’ I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all. To be redeemed is to be atoned—received in the close embrace of God, with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind.” (Perfection Pending, and Other Favorite Discourses, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Deseret Book)

Mummies are wrapped in knotted linnen. Some Jews wear, and are eventually buried in an undergarment with four corners (tallit katan. See Haymond’s post HERE), at the corners are specially tied knots called “Tzitzit.” You may recall Jesus condemned ancient Jews for enlarging the fringes of their garments. What they were doing was showing off the tokens of their covenants. Some Jews also wear a larger garment as an occasional outer garment called a “Tallit Gadol” which is a prayer shaw, if large enough it can be used to cover the canopy for marriage. It also has Tzitit or knots on the corners. These Tallits appear to be a symbol like the panther skins worn by Egyptian priests.

Some Jews wear leather straps called “Tefillin.” One on the head to hold a box containing the verses of scripture, with a knot tied afresh daily. There is also a Tefillin tied onto the arm and hand.The knots are tied to form Hebrew letters (Dalet, Shin, Yod). On the hand the traps are arranged to form the letter Shin (resembling a “W” bringing to mind El Shaddai).

Again, Bryce Haymond recently did two good posts on related topics. He discussed a Jewish practice of tying the hands of a bride and grom (Handfasting). I suspect this practice arose when the children of Israel did not have access to have their hands fastened together, and to the altar with a vav, they made a likeness with a knot. He also posted about crowns (HERE). He discussed how strings or ribbons are used to secure the crowns. It is clear that where the string is tied depicts the glory (degree) of the crown.

““…[T]he crown of sanctification… is added (the round linen cap was to act as a cushion for a metal crown during a long ceremony). Later the cap alone would suffice, since it showed that the owner was qualified to wear the ‘crown of justification.” (Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos, Deseret Book, Pg#55)

“The culmination of all initiation is coronation… every individual person may experience his own coronation… [t]here is a fusion of personalities in the coronation situation, he who assumes the crown being identified with whoever else wears it.” (Hugh Nibley, The Message of The Joseph Smith Papyri, Deseret Book, Pg. 353)

This family identification Nibley is referring to can also be called “sealing,” which is associated with the ideas of nails and knots. Most of modern Christendom sees salvation as individual thing, but we see it as a family affair.

When we kneel upon any of the three altar of the temple, one for each glory represented therein, our covenants need to be tied there in the knot that binds the heavenly rope to that kingdom. This is done by that “other thing,” the atonement. The knot is the covenant of creation and redemption made before in the pre mortal life.

“Whatever the blessed Holy One does is intended to revolve revolutions to fulfill the covenant of existence” (The Zohar, Matt,Vol 3, pg. 200, Mi-Qets)


Bryce Haymond said...

Excellent post. And thanks for the multiple links!

Anonymous said...

Hermes Tri, the ANUK the Anukim , Darth Vader
A K A Anukim Skywalker The Giants, and what was the Name of Anukim's Father?

Secrets stories in the open?

davidjlarsen said...

Great post, Dave. I don't think I've ever come across such an idea explained in this way. It makes great sense. I like the "tying the knot" allusion to the marriage covenant. I also like that you used Nibley's quote about the one being crowned becoming one with whoever else wears it. I've thought a lot about that idea lately. You've helped me make some great new connections in my mind with this post. Thanks!

David Littlefield said...


You are absolutly welcome! And thank you for the kind words.


David Littlefield said...

Opps, and thanks to Bryce too.

Your site has become a great resource on the net.

Not to start a mutual admiration society, but David Larsen and you have, in my mind, made a great contribution to understanding LDS theology by creating this little corner of the internet.

I just don't see a resource like this anywhere else. And these is important things.


Stephanie A. Quinn said...

I was talking with someone today about your post and the idea of the rope tying the worlds together and the nail/alter being the knot at each level. We also talked about the connection of "tying the knot" being a phrase used for marriage. His interesting comment thinking of that phrase your idea of tying the knots between worlds, was whether the sealing ceremony of husband and wife is the beginning of their creating thier own world as a couple and future God. I thought it was interesting and gave me something to think about.

David Littlefield said...


I think you're on the right track here!



David Littlefield said...

I saw the new Harry Potter movie last night. The ritual of the unbreakable vow was very interesting. It was a handshake with a knot tied around it.